Al Quran Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 121 to130
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(2:211) Ask the Children of Israel how many Clear Signs We gave them! And when a people tamper with Allah’s bounty after it has been bestowed on them – then indeed Allah is severe in punishment.222
229. There are two reasons why this query is addressed to the Children of Israel. In the first place, a group of living human beings provide a better source of instruction and admonition than mute archaeological findings. In the second place, the Israelites were a people who, having been endowed with Scripture and prophethood, were entrusted with the leadership of the world.
By falling prey to worldliness, hypocrisy and other errors of belief and conduct they subsequently lost God’s favor. A people entrusted with the task of universal leadership could derive no better lesson from another people than this one.
(2:212) Worldly life has been made attractive to those who have denied the Truth. Such men deride the men of faith, but the pious shall rank higher than them on the day of Resurrection. As for worldly livelihood, Allah grants it to whomsoever He wills without measure.
(2:213) In the en,mankind followed one single way. (Later on, this state ended and differences arose.) Then Allah sent forth Prophets as heralds of good tidings for the righteous and as warner’s against the consequences of evil-doing. He sent down with them the Book embodying the Truth so that it might judge among people in their disputes. And those who innovated divergent ways rather than follow the Truth were none other than those who had received the knowledge of the Truth and clear guidance, and they did so to commit excesses against each other.22 So by His leave Allah directed the believers to the Right Way in matters on which they disagreed. Allah guides whomsoever He wills onto a Straight Way.
230. When ignorant people attempt to trace the history of ‘religion’ they tend to the view that man began his life in the darkness of polytheism and that in the course of time, corresponding to man’s progress, this darkness gradually receded and the light increased man arrived at monotheism.
The Qur’anic version, however, proclaims that man began his life in the full light of the Truth.
God revealed this Truth to the very first man He created, one to whom He intimated the right way of life for man. Thereafter the human race remained on the Right Way for some time and lived as one community. Later, however, people invented deviating ways. This did not happen because Truth had not been communicated to them. The cause was rather that
some people willfully sought to acquire privileges, benefits and advantages beyond their legitimate limits, and thus subjected others to injustices. It was in order to enable people to overcome this corruption that God sent His Prophets. These Prophets were not sent to found separate religions in their own names and bring new religious communities into existence.
Rather the purpose of the Prophets was to illuminate before people the Truth which they had allowed to be lost, and once again make them into one community.
(2:214) Do you suppose2! that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the people of faith who passed away before you? They were afflicted by misery and hardship and were so convulsed that the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: “When will Allah’s help arrive?” They were assured: “Behold, Allah’s help is close by.”
231. In between this verse and the one above comes a whole story which has been left untold, a story which is alluded to in the present verse and which is mentioned in some detail in the Makkan surahs of the Qur’an (these were revealed earlier than the present surah).
The point emphasized here is that whenever the Prophets came into the world they, and their followers, were confronted with severe resistance from those in rebellion against God. At grave risk to themselves, they strove to establish the hegemony of the true religion over the false ways of life. To follow this religion has, therefore, never been easy; it is not merely a matter of declaring one’s faith and then sitting back in ease and comfort.
On the contrary, the profession of faith has always demanded that one should strive to establish the religion, which one has adopted as one’s faith, as a living reality and that one should spare no effort in undermining the power of the Devil who seeks to resist it.
(2:215) People ask you what they should — Say: “Whatever wealth you spend let it is for your parents and kinsmen, the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer; Allah is aware: whatever good you do.”
(2:216) Fighting is ordained upon you and it is disliked by you; it may well be that you dislike a thing even though it is good for you, and it may well be that you like a thing even though it is bad for you. Allah — and you do not know.
(2:217) People ask you about fighting in the holy month. Say: “Fighting in it is an awesome sin, but barring people from the Way of Allah, disbelieving in Him, and denying entry into the Holy Mosque and expelling its inmates from it%2 are more awesome acts in the sight of Allah; and persecution is even more heinous than killing.” They will not cease fighting against you till they turn you from your religion if they can.233 (So remember well) that whoever from amongst you turns away from his religion and dies in the state of unbelief their work will go to waste in this world and in the Next. They are destined for the Fire and it is there that they will abide.
232. This relates to a certain incident. In Rajab 2 A. H. the Prophet sent an expedition of eight persons to Nakhlah (which lies between Makka and Ta’if). He directed them to follow the movements of the Quraysh and gather information about their plans, but not to engage in fighting. On their way, they came across a trade caravan belonging to the Quraysh and ambushed it.
They killed one person and captured the rest along with their belongings and took them to Madina. They did this at a time when the month of Rajah was approaching its end and Sha’ban was about to begin. It was, therefore, doubtful whether the attack was actually carried out in one of the sacred months, that is, Rajab, or not. But the Quraysh, and the Jews who were secretly in league with them, as well as the hypocrites made great play of this and used it as a weapon in their propaganda campaign against the Muslims. (For this expedition see Ibn Hisham, Sirah. vol. 1, pp. 601 ff; Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, tr. A. Guillaume. pp. 286 ff.) They pointed out the contradiction between the claims of the Muslims to true religion on the one hand, and their not hesitating to shed blood in a sacred month on the other.
This verse aims to answer these objections. The essence of what is said here is that fighting during the sacred months is without doubt an evil act. It points out that those people who had continually subjected their kith and kin to untold wrong for thirteen years merely because they believed in the One God were not competent to make such an objection. Not only had the Muslims been driven from their homes, they had had the way to the Holy Mosque closed to them, a bar which had not been imposed by anyone during the course of some two thousand years. With this record of mischief and misconduct it was not for them to raise such an outcry at a minor ambush, and especially so when the incident had taken place without the approval of the Prophet. The whole incident was in fact no more than an irresponsible act on the part of some members of the Islamic community.
It should be remembered that when on their return those people went, with captives and booty, to visit the Prophet, he expressly pointed out to them that he had not permitted them to fight. Not only that, he declined to receive the public exchequer’s share of their booty, which indicated that their booty was considered unlawful. The Muslims, in general, also severely reproached the people responsible for the incident, and in fact nobody in Madina applauded what they had done.
233. A few simple-hearted Muslims, whose minds were seized by a mistaken concept of righteousness and pacifism, were influenced by the above objections which had been raised by the polytheists of Makka and the Jews. In this vers,e the believers are being asked not to entertain the hope that they might clear the air and promote understanding and goodwill by adopting an over-lenient stance towards their opponents. The objections of the latter were not motivated by the desire to find out the Truth; their true purpose was nothing but vilification. What particularly irked the adversaries of the Muslims was that they believed in
a religion of their own and were inviting the whole world to accept it. Hence, as long as the Muslims continued to believe in Islam and as long as their opponents remained stubborn in their disbelief, the existing chasm between the two groups was bound to remain.
Moreover, the enemies whom they confronted were not to be considered ordinary enemies.
Those who wanted to deprive a person of his belongings or land were in fact enemies of a relatively much less dangerous kind than those who sought to turn him away from his faith;
while the former sought to harm his worldly interests, the latter were bent upon hurling him into the eternal torment in the Hereafter.
234. Jihad denotes doing one’s utmost to achieve something. It is not the equivalent of war, for which the Arabic word is qital. Jihad has a wider connotation and embraces every kind of striving in God’s cause. A mujahid is a person who is single-mindedly devoted to his cause, who uses his mental capacity to reflect how best he can achieve it, propagates it by word of mouth and by the pen, uses his physical energy in striving to serve it, spends all the resources at his disposal to promote it, employs all the force he commands in confronting any power which might stand in its way, and, whenever necessary, does not shirk risking his very life for it. All this is Jihad. ‘ Jihad in the way of God’ is that strife in which man engages exclusively to win God’s good pleasure, to establish the supremacy of His religion and to make His word prevail.
(2:219) They ask you about wine and games of chance. Say: “In both these there is great evil, even though there is some benefit for people, but their evil is greater than their benefit.” 2%
They ask: “What should we spend in the Way of Allah?” Say: “Whatever you can spare.” In this way , Allah clearly expounds His injunctions to you that you may reflect upon them,
235. This is the first injunction concerning intoxicating drinks and gambling, and here the matter has been left merely as an expression of disapproval. This was a preliminary step designed to prepare the minds of people for the acceptance of their prohibition. The injunction prohibiting the performance of Prayer when in a state of intoxication came later, and ultimately alcohol, gambling and the like were categorically prohibited see(_4: 43)and (5: 90).
(2:220) both in regard to this world and the Next. They question you concerning orphans. Say: “To deal with them in the way which is to their good that is best.23¢ And if you intermix (your expenses and living) with them, (there is no harm for) they are your brothers.” Allah knows the mischievous from the righteous, and had Allah willed, He would indeed have imposed on you exacting conditions, but He is All-Powerful, Most Wise.
236. Before this verse was revealed many severe injunctions had already been revealed regarding the protection of orphans’ property. It had been ordained that ‘ people should not even draw near to the property of the orphan! (6:_152)v; (17: 34) and that ‘those who wrongfully eat the properties of orphans only, fill their bellies with fire! (4: 10). Because of these severe injunctions the orphans’ guardians were so over awed that they even separated the food and drink of the orphans from their own; they felt anxious lest anything belonging to the orphans became mixed with their own. It is for this reason that they enquired of the Prophet (peace he on him) what the proper form of their dealings with orphans should be.
(2:221) Marry not the women who associate others with Allah in His Divinity until they believe; for a believing slave-girl is better than a (free, respectable) woman who associates others with Allah in His Divinity, even though she might please you.
Likewise, do not give your women in marriage to men who associate others with Allah in His Divinity until they believe; for a believing slave is better than a (free, respectable) man who associates others with Allah in His Divinity, even though he might please you. Such people call you towards the Fire,22 and Allah calls you, by his leave, towards Paradise and forgiveness; and He makes His injunctions clear to people so that they may take heed.
237. This is the reason for, and the wisdom underlying the injunction mentioned above prohibiting marriage links with polytheists. Marriage does not consist merely of sexual relations between a man and a woman. It is a relationship which has deep social, moral and emotional implications. If established between a believer and a polytheist, this kind of relationship has many possible outcomes. On the one hand, it is possible that because of the influence of the believing spouse, the other partner, the family and the future generations may become receptive to Islamic beliefs and to the Islamic wav of life. On the other hand, it is also possible that the spouse who is a polytheist may influence the thinking and mode of living of the believing spouse, the family and the future generations. Moreover this relationship may promote in that family a hotchpotch of Islam, downright atheism, and polytheism which, however welcome to non-Muslims, is in no way acceptable to Islam. No true believer can run the risk that either the ideas and life-styles which are organically related to atheism and polytheism may flourish among the members of his family, or that some aspect of his own life may bear the impress of atheism or polytheism.
(2:222) They ask you about menstruation. Say: “It is a state of impurity; so keep away from women in the state of menstruation,“ and do not approach them until they are cleansed. And when they are cleansed,22 then come to them as Allah has commanded you.”~° Truly, Allah loves those who abstain from evil and keep themselves pure.
238. The Arabic word adha denotes both a state of ritual impurity and _ sickness. Menstruation is not merely an impurity, but also a state in which the woman is closer to sickness than to health.
239. With regard to matters such as these the Qur’an resorts to metaphors and figurative language. Hence it instructs men not to approach women. This does not mean that people
should either abstain from sitting together on the same floor or eating together when a woman has her monthly period making her virtually an untouchable, as has been the custom among the Jews, Hindus and certain other nations. The explanation of this injunction by the Prophet makes it clear that during this period men are only required to abstain from sexual intercourse; no change is postulated in other relationships, and the woman is to be treated in the normal way. (See, for instance, Bukhari, ‘Hayd’, 10, ‘Itikaf’, 2-4, 10, 19; Muslim, ‘Hayd’, 6-13; Abu Da’ud, ‘Taharah’, 102, 106 – Ed.)
240. The ‘command’ of God mentioned here is not a formal legal injunction from God, but that inherent urge with which the nature of both men and animals has been imbued and which is apprehended instinctively.
(The verse means, therefore, that after the end of the menstrual course people may again engage in sexual intercourse – Ed.)
(2:223) Your wives are your tilth; go, then, into your tilth as you wish21 but take heed of your ultimate future22 and avoid incurring the wrath of Allah. Know well that one The day you shall face Him. Announce good tidings to the believers.
241. That is, God’s purpose in the creation of women is not merely to provide men with recreation. Their mutual relationship is like that between a farmer and his tilth. A farmer approaches his field not just for the sake of pleasure, but to acquire produce. Similarly, man ought to approach the tilth of the human race with the purpose of acquiring produce, that is, offspring. What is of concern to the Law of God is not the particular mode of cultivating one’s tilth, but rather that one should go only to one’s tilth and not elsewhere, and that one should go there for the purpose of cultivation.
242. These words are susceptible to two meanings. First, that a person should try to maintain the continuity of the human race so that when he departs from this world there should be others to replace him in his tasks. Second, that one should be concerned with the quality of the coming generation, i.e., how far it is endowed with religious devotion, moral excellence and humanity, and that one should do all that is possible to promote these qualities. The latter part to the verse contains the warning that those who deliberately neglect these two duties will he severely taken to task by God.
(2:224) Do not swear by Allah in your oaths if they are intended to hinder you from virtue, piety and promoting the good of mankind.~3 Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All- Knowing.
243. Authentic Traditions indicate that if a person takes a vow and discovers later that righteousness and common good are best served by breaking that vow then he should do so. Expiation consists in either feeding or providing clothes for ten poor people, or setting free a slave, or fasting for three days (see 5: 89).
(2:225) Allah will not take you to task for the oaths you utter in vain,“ but will certainly take you to task for the oaths you utter in earnest. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Forbearing.
244. This refers to oaths which one utters either through habit or without any intent and purpose. The breach of such vows neither entails expiation nor makes man liable to God’s
(2:226) For those who vow abstinence from their wives, there is a respite of four months.~5 Then, if they go back on their vow they will find that Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate. 24
245. In the legal terminology of Islam, this is known as ila’. It is obvious that harmony and cordiality do not always prevail in matrimonial life. There are occasions when strains and tensions develop, leading to discord and estrangement. But the Law of God does not approve of that discord which causes a husband and wife, who are legally tied to one another in matrimony, to remain for all practical purposes alienated from one another as if they had ceased to be spouses. For this kind of abnormal discord and estrangement God has fixed a limit of four months during which the spouses are required either to settle their difference or to break the tie of wedlock so that each becomes free to contract marriage with someone with whom a harmonious matrimonial relationship appears more likely.
Since the verse mentions ‘taking a vow’, the Hanafi and Shafi’i jurists consider the injunction to be applicable only when a husband has taken a vow not to have sexual relations with his wife. According to them, the injunction does not apply if the husband merely forsakes sexual relations with his wife without taking any vow to that effect. The Maliki jurists are, however, of the opinion that irrespective of whether a person has taken a vow, the maximum permissible limit for abstaining from sexual relations in wedlock is four months.
A statement to that effect is also attributed to Ahmad b. Hanbal. (See Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al- Mujtahid, vol. 2, pp. 98 ff. – Ed.)
According to ‘Ali, Ibn Abbas and Hasan al-Basri, this injunction is related to the cessation of sexual relations as a result of unpleasantness in the relationship of the spouses. It would not apply, however, if a husband were to decide to abandon sexual relations with his wife out of some beneficial consideration – say because the wife is breastfeeding – at a time when their relationship was pleasant. According to other jurists, however, any vow which prevents sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is ila’, and ought not to last longer than four months irrespective of the state of the matrimonial relationship when it was taken. (See Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an, vol. 1, pp. 355 ff – Ed.)
246. Some jurists have interpreted this verse to signify that if the spouses break their vow and re-establish sexual relations they will not be liable to any expiation and will be pardoned by God gratuitously. However, the majority of jurists are of the opinion that they, are required to expiate. The statement that God is Oft-Forgiving and Merciful does not mean that God has forgiven them. It means rather that God will accept their expiation and will forgive them for whatever excesses they may have committed against each other.
247. According to ‘Uthman, Ibn Mas’ud, Zayd ibn Thabit and others the limit for the restoration of matrimonial relations is four months. The mere termination of that period proves that the husband has decided to repudiate the marriage and so divorce automatically ensues. It will be reckoned as an irrevocable (ba’in) repudiation. This means that separation between the spouses will come into force and the husband will not have the right to revoke it during the period of waiting (‘iddah). The two parties will, however, have the right to re-contract the rriage by mutual consent. Statements from ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, and also a statement from Ibn ‘Umar, have been reported in support of this doctrine and have been accepted by the Hanafi jurists as the basis of their doctrine.
Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib, Makhul, Zuhri,. and some other early jurists agree with this doctrine to the extent that divorce comes into force after four months. But they consider that the husband may revoke it during the period of waiting; and even after the lapse of that period the spouses may re-contract marriage by mutual consent.
However, ‘A’ishah, Abu al Darda and the majority of the jurists of Madina are opposed to this opinion and hold that after four months the matter should be placed before the court when the judge will order the husband either to resume matrimonial relations with his wife or divorce her. Statements from ‘Umar and ‘Ali as well as a statement from Ibn ‘Umar have come down in support of this doctrine. This opinion has been accepted by Malik and Shafi’i. (See Jassas, vol. 1, pp. 359 f. – Ed.)
248. That is, if a man has abandoned his wife on unreasonable grounds, he should not feel secure from the wrath of God for He is not unaware of the excesses that he may have committed.
(2:228) Divorced women shall keep themselves in waiting for three menstrual courses and it is unlawful for them, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day, to hide whatever Allah might have created in their wombs. Should their husbands desire reconciliation during this time they are entitled to take them back into wedlock.
Women have the same rights against their men as men have against them, but men have a degree above them. Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.
249. Jurists disagree about the legal import of this verse. According to some, as long as a woman has not completed her third menstrual period repudiation will not have the effect of irrevocable divorce. This is the view of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Musa al- Ashi’arl, Ibn Mas’ud and several distinguished Companions of the Prophet. This is also the accepted doctrine of the Hanafi jurists. On the other hand, another group of jurists is of the view that, as soon as the third monthly period of a woman begins, the husband ceases to have the right to revoke the divorce. This is the view of , ‘A’ishah, Ibn ‘Umar and Zayd ibn Thabit, and has been accepted by, the Shafi’i and Maliki jurists. It should be clear, however, that this injunction is applicable only when the husband has pronounced single or double divorce. In case of triple divorce, the husband ceases to have the right of revocation. (See Jassas, vol. 1. pp. 364 ff. – Ed.)
(2:229) Divorce can be pronounced twice: then, either honorable retention or kindly release should follow.22
(While dissolving the marriage tie) it is unlawful for you to take back anything of what you have given to your wives2! unless both fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah. Then, if they fear that they might not be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah, there is no blame upon them for what the wife might give away of her property to become released from the marriage tie.2 These are the bounds set by Allah; do not transgress them. Those of you who transgress the bounds set by Allah are indeed the wrong-doers.
250. This little verse aims at the reform of a serious evil that was rampant in the social life in pre-Islamic Arabia. According to the customary law of Arabia, a person was entitled to pronounce any number of divorces upon his wife. As a result divorce was resorted to at the least provocation and annoyance. In addition, the husband often exercised his right to revoke the divorce he had pronounced with the result that the poor wife could neither live with him in happiness nor free herself to contract a fresh marriage with someone else.
Here the Qur’an seeks to shut the door on this injustice. According to this verse, a man may pronounce revocable divorce upon his wife not more than twice. Should he pronounce divorce for the third time after revoking it twice, the wife will be permanently alienated from him.
The appropriate procedure for divorce, according to the Qur’an and Hadith, is that a person should pronounce one divorce outside the time of the wife’s menstrual period. After the first divorce he may pronounce a second in the next clear period if he wants to, though it is preferable that he should confine himself to pronouncing the first. In this case the husband retains the right to revoke the divorce at any time before the lapse of the period of waiting (‘iddah) even if the period of waiting has lapsed, the couple have the right to recontract the marriage by mutual consent. If the husband, however, pronounces divorce in his wife’s third clear period he has no right to revoke the divorce, and the spouses are not entitled to re-contract the marriage. The pronouncing of triple divorce in one session is a highly sinful act according to the Law, and the Prophet has strongly denounced it. (See Nasii, ‘Talaq’, 6 – Ed.) It has even been established that ‘Umar used to flog those who pronounced triple divorce in one session. Although this procedure of divorce is considered sinful, the founders of the four legal schools consider it to have legal effect, with the result that such divorce, in their view, becomes absolutely irrevocable.
251. This refers to the mahr (bridal gift) and the jewelry, clothes and so on which the husband offers as a gift to his wife, and to which he has no right of reclaim. It is, indeed, normally inconsistent with Islamic ethics that a person should reclaim anything he has made over to another by way of donation or gift. In the Hadith this disgraceful act is likened to a dog licking its own vomit. (See Bukhari, ‘Hibah’, 30; Nasiii, ‘Hibah’, 3, etc. – Ed.)
In the case of a husband, in particular, it is a matter of the utmost disgrace that, at the time of saying farewell to his divorced wife he should try to dispossess her of what he had once given her out of his own goodwill. On the contrary, the morals that Islam seeks to cultivate require that at the time of parting the husband ought to present her with a farewell gift. See (verse 241 below.)
252. In the terminology of Islamic Law this is known as khul’, i.e. a woman’s securing the annulment of her marriage through the payment of some compensation to her husband.
Whatever settlement is made between a husband and wife should come into effect. If the matter is referred to the court, however, it will investigate only whether the wife has really become too disgusted with the husband to put up with him. (For the Traditions on the basis of which the author concludes this see the commentaries on this verse in Ibn Kathir and Qurtubi, see especially the latter, vol. 2, pp. 946-8 – Ed.) Once this is determined the court is entitled to fix the amount of payment incumbent on the wife as compensation for the repudiation of her marriage, and the husband will be bound to accept that amount and divorce his wife. In general, the jurists believe that the payment, thus fixed, should not be higher than the original mahr paid by the husband.
The divorce that comes into effect is irrevocable and brings separation into effect immediately. Since the woman has paid compensation, she has in effect purchased the right of repudiation and the husband, therefore, has ceased to have the right to revoke the divorce. If, however, the spouses agree to recontract marriage, they may do so. According to the majority of jurists the period of waiting under khul’ is the same as under divorce. However, there are several Traditions in Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, etc., which show that the Prophet fixed the period of waiting at one menstrual period, and that ‘Uthman applied this in a case which he decided. (See Ibn Kathir’s commentary on the verse.)
(2:230) Then, if he divorces her (for the third time, after having the divorce twice), she shall not be lawful to him unless she first takes another man for a husband, and he divorces her.23 There is no blame upon them if both of them return to one another thereafter, provided they think that they will be able to keep within the bounds set by Allah. These are the bounds of Allah which He makes clear to a people who have knowledge (of the consequences of violating those bounds).
253. It is known from authentic Traditions that it is totally illegitimate for a person to arrange the marriage of his divorced wife with someone else on the understanding that the latter will divorce her to make it possible for the former husband to re-contract marriage with that woman. Such trickery would in fact be an act of sheer sexual corruption and would not render the woman liable to remarriage with her former husband. According to a Tradition transmitted from ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, Abu Hurayrah and ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir, the Prophet pronounced his curse on those who arrange, as well as on those who agree to contract, such fictitious marriages. (See Muslim. ‘Talaq’, 15, 71; Nasa’1, “Talaq’, 8; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, P. 314 and vol. 5, p. 334; Al-Muwatta’, ‘Talaq’, 27; Abu Da’ud. ‘Talaq’.10 – Ed.)